Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bridge School Benefit – A Concert Review

     Last night (and repeated today) was the annual Bridge School Benefit at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, California. With the late addition of Brian Wilson, there were nine performances by artists donating their time to benefit Bridge School, a non-profit organization enabling individuals with severe speech and physical impairments to pursue their goals and dreams.
     During the return drive from the benefit, a music-suave follow attendee was asked what should be noted in a blog post about the evening. Without hesitating, she made three statements:
     1. The sound system at Shoreline has never performed better.
     2. Like no other concert, the performers at Bridge School are genuinely honored to be present; and it is reflected in their attitude toward the audience, toward each other, and (most importantly) toward the purpose of the event and the kids benefitting from their generosity.
     3. The performance by Florence and The Machine was the most memorable among the reasons to remember the evening. 
Florence and The Machine
      Well, with insights like that (thanks Karen Mc), blogging is easy. This post will just consider the three statements.
      Was the sound system at its best? YES!!! We have been to Shoreline often, but we don’t remember ever being so impressed with the fidelity. In fact, we have seen Florence and The Machine at the same venue, and while we were satisfied with the sound quality, it wasn’t close to the quality during the performance of some of the same songs last night. Additionally, it wasn’t until seeing Soundgarden last night that we appreciated the vocal skills of frontman Chris Cornell - and the sound system played a significant role in bringing the appreciation.
Neil Young
      Was the positive attitude genuine? Yes, without question. Thank you to Neil Young, who has been spearheading this event for 28 years.
     Were there reasons to remember the event? Yes. The set by Bands of Horses was a treat. Soundgarden was much better than expected, and we had high expectations. Brian Wilson struggled vocally, but he had ample help during the songs of the Beach Boys. Chris Connell reunited with Eddie Vedder for their Temple of the Dog song “Hunger Strike.”   
     But was Florence and The Machine the most memorable? YES!!! As already noted, we had seen them at Shoreline before. We also saw them at the Austin City Limits Festival in 2012 (one of us thought it was the best performance of that festival). But the previous opportunities did not adequately prepare us for last night. There are times when you find yourself slowly shaking your head up and down in appreciation for what an artist is doing. It’s seldom that you find yourself slowly shaking your head left and right in disbelief of what the artist is doing. Last night, I realized my head was slowly signaling my disbelief. After they walked off the stage and things quieted, we heard the 40ish man behind us say to the others in his group, “That may have been the best performance I’ve seen in my life.” No one in the group suggested another contender.  

      Chris Cornell joins Pearl Jam to provide a combination of vocal power at the high range (Cornell) and vocal power at the deeper range (Eddie Vedder).  

Brian Wilson with Neil Yonng
Pearl Jam
Nora Jones (Puss n Boots)
     Florence and The Machine – good fidelity for a Youtube clip, but it cannot duplicate the performance quality.

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